• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

High-protein/low-carb diet: kidney danger?

May 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you're going to try a high-protein/low-carbohydrate eating plan, most doctors would advise you not to stay on it for very long. The concerns include heart disease and kidney damage. But a new report shows when it comes to your kidneys, eating high protein may be healthy.

The concern is that eating large amounts of protein could be taxing on the kidneys. The kidneys are the body's natural filtration system. They keep the body in balance.

And if you eat a lot of protein:

"The workload on the kidney increased with high-protein diets. That high workload would then fatigue, if you will, the kidneys," said Dr. Tariq Shah, St. Vincent Medical Center.

Kidney and nutrition specialist Dr. Shah says that's no longer true. In a new report in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers compared the effects of low-fat diet and high-protein diets on kidney function. They found very little difference.

"High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets when done the right way I think are of immense benefit to health overall," said Shah.

The right way would mean lean sources of protein and only moderate amounts of cheese, cold cuts or bacon. And Shah says stay away from refined flours and sugars.

If you want to do all you can to make sure your kidneys remain healthy, Shah says all you have to do is remember a few things.

  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Go easy on Advil, Aleve, ibuprofen, painkillers. Those can damage the kidneys if you take them over extended periods of time.
  • Cut back on salt.

Shah says good protein choices include skinless chicken, lean beef, pork and low-fat dairy products.

And look for carbs high in fiber like nutrient-dense vegetables.

If you have kidney or liver disease or diabetes, talk to your doctor before starting a high-protein diet.